Italian and French archaeologists have discovered four skeletons and gold coins in the ruins of an ancient shop on the outskirts of Pompeii, officials said Friday.
The skeletons are those of young people, including an adolescent girl, who perished in the back of the shop near the ancient Roman town when Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered it in ash in 79, said a statement from the area office of the famous archaeological site near Naples.
Three gold coins and a necklace's pendant were scattered among the bones. In the workshop was an oven which archaeologists think might have been used to make bronze objects.
The excavation of that and a second ancient shop started in May near a necropolis in the Herculaneum port area. Archaeologists are puzzling over what kind of business the second shop did. It features a circular well accessible by a spiral staircase and dug out of the terrain.
Officials said there was evidence the shop had been ransacked by clandestine diggers after the eruption, presumably "on the hunt for treasures buried under the ashes." The coins and the gold-leaf-foil pendant, in the shape of a flower, apparently escaped the eyes of those pillaging the shop, the archaeologists said.
In another stunning discovery, the dig revealed a 4th century B.C. tomb of an adult, complete with funerary vases. The find "adds to the rare funerary testimony of the pre-Roman age," the statement said.
Inside the tomb was the skeleton of an adult, possibly male, lying on his back. Near the arms and feet were at least six vases painted black.
Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum were ancient Roman towns. Much of the area is still to be excavated, including of Herculaneum, which was buried deeper, beneath as much as 80 feet (24 meters) of ash.
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